One of the most popular summer vacation activities for the family is swimming with the dolphins, but you can do that almost anywhere these days. If you're looking for a more once-in-a-lifetime, unique experience, here are some other friendly sea creatures and marine mammals you can swim, play and interact with.
While dolphins will never lose their appeal, try one of these more memorable dips.
Swim with Sea Turtles - Barbados
Aboard Tall Ship Cruises in Bridgetown, Barbados, get a feel for what Darwin experienced, floating peacefully among the sea turtles. Along with a traditional Bajan lunch of flying fish and macaroni pie (neither taste especially as they sound) and plenty of rum punch, the crew leads visitors and cruise ship guests out on the beautiful Caribbean where turtles and guests alike swim among the coral reefs.
Swim with Sea Lions - St. Thomas
Coral World Ocean Park offers the opportunity to get up and close with one of these frisky seals. Used to human interaction and showboating, they are often trained to do tricks and perform. The four male sea lions at Coral World come from Uruguay, South America and are intelligent and comical creatures.
Swim with Manatees - Florida
The pristine, clear waters of Homosassa River and the Blue Springs on the coast of central Florida are home to the largest concentration of manatees in the world. Averaging 10 ft. long and weighing 800-1200 pounds, these magnificent sea creatures are docile herbivores that don't mind interacting with snorkelers. Capt Mike's private houseboat tour accommodates only 2-6 swimmers at a time so you get the utmost in personal attention.
Swim with Stingrays - Grand Cayman
Not for the faint of heart, as one of the top water attractions in the world, Stingray City attracts the bravest of the brave scuba divers and snorkelers. Be prepared to feel them brush up against you in droves (there are more than two dozen slimy skinned creatures floating around) and they're less afraid of you than you are of it. The stingrays have been known to suck on human flesh so to speak, leaving hickey looking marks.
Swim with Manta Rays - Kona, Hawaii
One of the Top 10 snorkels and SCUBA Dives in the world, a nighttime swim with the manta rays is a memory you'll never forget. Massive gentle giants that can reach well over 14 feet, the mantas were attracted to the concentration of plankton in the area, and getting fed by the divers, have made Kona what seems to be a permanent home.
Swim with Pigs - Exuma Cays, Bahamas
You've probably seen the internet phenomenon that has become the swimming pigs. In fact, it's hard to miss these adorable creatures. Affectionately called Pig Beach, there are approximately 20 friendly (but feral) pigs who call the island home. The swimming pigs are truly a sight to behold and have become so popular that they have inspired a children’s book, “The Secret of Pig’s Island,” and a song by children’s author Sandra Boynton.